Voter ID law struck down (for now) in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania judge has struck down a Pennsylvania law that would require photo ID for voting, saying the law placed an unreasonable burden on the right to vote.

The ruling will be appealed and ultimately decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The courts had delayed implementation of the law pending the court case and the law remains in that status.

Minnesotans will recall that a similar proposal, which was on the state ballot in 2012 as a proposed state constitutional amendment, was defeated by the voters. In Minnesota, Pennsylvania and other states around the country, requiring photo ID at polling places is favored by Republicans and opposed by Democrats for partisan reasons that are obvious to anyone who looks at the issue.

Judge Bernard L. McGinley of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court rejected the basic contention that the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud or even that it was intended to prevent voter fraud. That’s pretty strong stuff for opponents of such laws who have always argued that the real motivation behind the laws is to suppress turnout among the kinds of voters who tend to support Democrats.

Election law expert Rick Hasen of the the University of California at Irvine (and keeper of the estimable Election Law Blog) provided a first reaction to the ruling that I took as a caution against liberals getting too far ahead of themselves in celebrating the Pennsylvania ruling.  For example, Judge McGinley specifically said he was not holding that the law violated the principle of equal protection, nor was he holding that the law was motivated by an attempt to disenfranchise minorities or Democrats.

Even when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court put a stay on the implementation of the law heading into the 2012 elections, the justices signaled that a properly drafted voter-ID law would be constitutional. So the final ruling in this case is likely to depend on details of the law itself rather than the basic constitutionality of such laws.

Judge McGinley’s full ruling is here.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (74)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/17/2014 - 11:40 am.

    Not to mention minor details

    such as the lack of evidence of voter misrepresentation fraud.
    Hard to argue that the State has a compelling interest in preventing a nonexistent danger.

  2. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 01/17/2014 - 02:53 pm.


    I still contend that the biggest reason we don’t have evidence of voter fraud is simply because we aren’t looking for it. Or, to put it another way, when people look for it, they find it. Here is a case in NY from last year:
    For those that don’t click through, the NY City Department of Investigations sent 63 agents out to polling locations to vote under the names of people who were dead, felons or had moved away. 61 of them successfully cast ballots. Of the two that failed, one was turned away because the name of the felon that he was using was the son of the election official.
    There are obvious ways to cast fraudulent ballots and we’re foolish to not try to close them.

    There is another issue here too. Living life without an ID in our society is a pretty real hardship. If you lost your driver’s license, how quickly would you try to get it replaced? Immediately, right? We should be looking for ways to get an ID in the hands of those who don’t have them.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/17/2014 - 05:05 pm.

      Interesting report you cite. Instead of relying on the National Review’s reporting, I decided to see what the NY Department of Investigations actually had to say about the matter:

      These findings demonstrate that some ineligible individuals remain on the voter rolls. In relation to the approximately 2.1 million votes cast in the three elections, the 61 votes cast by investigators and the sample of ineligible individuals identified by DOI is not statistically significant, although it indicates vulnerability in the system. This information is not a finding of actual voter fraud, but rather, consists of snapshots of deficiencies in the voter rolls.

      It’s all there, for anyone to see on page 13:

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/18/2014 - 10:15 am.

      The Fraudian explanation

      Anna Freud, that is.
      The statement that the very absence of a phenomenon is proof that it is present.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/19/2014 - 10:39 am.

      Voter Fraud

      Actually we have been looking for voter fraud and did indeed find some. Minnesota Majority has been pouring over voter records for the past decade looking for fraud and haven’t found anything more than a handful of possible cases. Most recently there was the instance where a lady forged the signature on her daughter’s absentee ballot and sent it in while the daughter voted at college.

      While it’s possible to commit voter fraud, the real question is whether or not we should spend large amounts of money on a perceived issue. At a minimum you’re looking at tens of millions of dollars to get a system in place to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Is that really a wise way to use our limited government resources?

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/17/2014 - 08:15 pm.


    The motivation for voter ID laws is so transparently and pathetically partisan that it’s hard to take any argument in favor of such laws seriously. As RB Holbrook points out, 61 votes of 2.1 million is not statistically significant, though it does, I agree, point toward at least some vulnerability in the system. That vulnerability ought to be easily addressed without going to a lot of trouble and expense to shut out voters who are eligible.

    That said, however, Peder DeFor’s 2nd paragraph seems quite relevant. It *is* something of a hardship in a variety of ways not to be able to definitively establish one’s identity, and I agree that we ought to be looking for ways to get that kind of ID in the hands of every citizen – without, I might add, screening those citizens in such a way as to significantly diminish the number of voters who would otherwise be legally eligible to cast a ballot. Given the transparency of “photo ID” as a mechanism to eliminate otherwise eligible voters, I don’t know what mechanism would work to accomplish both goals offhand, but it does strike me as something worth investigating.

    In doing so, of course, people who call themselves “conservative” would have to drop the charade of investigating nonexistent voter fraud.

  4. Submitted by jason myron on 01/17/2014 - 08:32 pm.

    “we aren’t looking for it”

    Peder, if Obama decided to impose regulations on private businesses with the type of evidence, or lack thereof, that the Repubs have attempted to conjure up regarding this non-existent problem, they would be screaming bloody murder. Let’s be clear…this is a blatant attempt to suppress votes…period. It’s been admitted by numerous republican consultants, operatives and politicians. To add insult to injury, many of these same people who insist on voter ID are against displaying the same type of information to purchase guns, ammo, magazines, etc.

  5. Submitted by Tom Lynch on 01/17/2014 - 09:28 pm.

    Thanks for straightening that out. I knew there was more to it when I saw the previous commenters name. It’s called voter suppresion.

  6. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/17/2014 - 11:12 pm.

    Math lesson

    I think some readers need some math lessons: comparing 61 fraudulent votes to 2 million cast votes is wrong; 61 should be compared to 63 KNOWN attempts and that constitutes a 96% success rate for fraud.

    Sure, it is a partisan issue since stopping fraud will most likely help Republicans by preventing organizations like Acorn from bringing busloads of voters to vote (for any Democrat on the ballot, that is). But Republican position is logical since preventing voters’ fraud is a reasonable and Constitutional goal even if fraud is not very likely (despite an example above to the contrary) while preventing disenfranchising voters is not really a goal (since all voter ID laws have some safeguards built in and there will be many liberal organizations that will help those who don’t have an ID) but just a slogan. No one will be suppressed except for those who really should not vote.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/18/2014 - 08:18 am.

      Subtle distinction

      Re-read what RB wrote. I know it is a subtle distinction, but it is important to understand what was “proven” by the successful casting of those 61 votes.

      It was not proven that there are hordes of fraudsters out there attempting to vote illegally (since the only “fraudsters” were the investigators themselves – none additional were found).

      However, it WAS proven that the SYSTEM was faulty in that records were not updated on a timely enough basis to keep the names of ineligible voters off of the voter rolls.

      This study did NOT prove voter fraud. This study DID highlight the fact that New York City needs to find a way to keep accurate records on a more timely basis.

      Please take some time to understand that distinction, because it is a critical one in these discussions.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/18/2014 - 08:58 am.


      That investigation is not evidence of voter fraud. Unlike people actually voting illegally, the people who participated in that investigation did not face the threat of prosecution. That theat, especially compared to the limited value in casting a single vote, is itself a significant deterrant to fraud.

      The reference to Acorn busing in people to vote illegally is so dishonest and lacking in evidence, it doesn’t even deserve a response. And the statement that voter ID laws contain safeguards demonstrates a real ignorance of what these laws entail.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/18/2014 - 10:19 am.

      Your math

      is better than your logic.
      How many votes were actually cast by people who knew that they were ineligible to vote and who were not police officers (or their aides) attempting to perpetrate a sting?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/18/2014 - 05:18 pm.

      Not fraud

      All it proved is that the voter lists in New York City are outdated. That is not the same as fraud, since none of the people who weren’t supposed to vote ever showed up. Some of those who were on the list but still ineligible to vote were ineligible because they are convicted felons. Would that show up on their ID?

      “No one will be suppressed except for those who really should not vote.” Nonsense. The people whose votes will be suppressed will be those who, for whatever reason do not have ID. That is different from saying they shouldn’t vote.

      Oh, and kudos for working in the ACORN reference. You do know that the organization no longer exists, don’t you?

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/18/2014 - 10:20 am.


    We look for election fraud in every election cycle and in between. It’s part of the standard election process. This is why fraud is captured and prosecuted and it’s why we have data on voter fraud. People make the mistake of thinking that just because they don’t hear about it or know about it, it must not be happening. Even if we looked for spaghetti monsters, we wouldn’t find them, and that doesn’t prove they exist.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/18/2014 - 10:23 am.

    It’s the same problem everywhere

    The problem with these laws is that they deliberately interfere with lawful voters rights to cast votes. The Republican’s who pass these laws assume that these restrictions will benefit Republicans but those assumptions are not the main reason for striking down the laws since everyone from Republican military brats to lefty Lucy’s loses their vote.

  9. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/18/2014 - 04:49 pm.

    Fix the unreliable system

    That distinction that Pat Berg wrote about is exactly what I wanted to emphasize. The fraud was not found; what was found was how easy it is to fool the system. And if we have a government system, especially as important as a voting process, that can be easily fooled, we should try to find the ways to fix it. Voter ID law is almost an iron clad guarantee that voter fraud will not happen. And, there are no real negative consequences for that since all such laws have safeguards against that as I said before And if not, there will be); there is no evidence that problems occurred either – it is all hypothetical.

    I also sand behind my statement about Acorn. I was not implying that all busloads they bring are ineligible to vote. I meant that the people who are brought in to vote do not really care and know nothing about who they vote for. If all they have to do is come and vote, they will; if they need to have a photo ID, they will not bother. That is not disenfranchising – that is cleaning a voting system.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/18/2014 - 05:10 pm.

      How many members of Acorn

      Voted illegally?
      Tried to vote and were stopped?
      Zero to both.

      Some Acorn members submitted fraudulent voter registration forms.
      It is not clear that any illegal votes occurred as a result.
      In other words, the system worked.
      There is still no evidence that the system needs fixing beyond making it equally accessible to all eligible voters.

      You’re still looking for Democrats under the bed.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 01/18/2014 - 06:02 pm.

      You managed to tear down the argument that it’s not…

      voter suppression in one sentence. And I quote:

      “if they need to have a photo ID, they will not bother [to vote].”

      And just why exactly do you think Republicans want to force everyone to get a photo ID?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/18/2014 - 09:15 pm.

      those brought in neither cared or knew what they voted for huh?

      Wow, and to think I thought mind reading wasn’t real all this time. Nevertheless, their voting rights remain intact regardless of motivation or knowledge of the candidates. Mayhaps you’d like to propose a constitutional amendment requiring a certain level of civic knowledge, perhaps a test… hmm wait a minute, I think I’ve heard this joke before.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/18/2014 - 11:28 pm.

      Says who?

      Who are you to say that the voters registered by Acorn know nothing about who they vote for. Based on your comments, in which you repeatedly state things that are false, it would be my opinion that you don’t know what you are voting for. But I would never be so arrogant as to suggest we “clean” the voting system by taking away your right to vote.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/19/2014 - 09:12 am.

      Fixing the system

      “And if we have a government system, especially as important as a voting process, that can be easily fooled, we should try to find the ways to fix it.”

      You fix the system by fixing the *system*, not by making it harder for people to vote.

      First you identify the problem in the *system* which in this case was out-of-date recordkeeping (ineligible voter names still on the voter rolls).

      Then you examine ways to fix *that* problem. You determine what part of the process allowed the rolls to become outdated and then adjust to process to address that.

      You might examine the current voter rolls with an eye to removing ineligible names, but you must do so CAREFULLY to ensure against allowing eligible voters to get caught up in a “voter roll purge”.

      All of this can be done without further restrictions on citizens’ voting rights.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/19/2014 - 10:30 am.

      Voter ID Law

      The voter ID does not guarantee someone is who they claim to be–it merely gives people a false sense of security like the TSA agents who ask you to take off your shoes to get on a plane. Case in point: how often do 19 year olds get a fake drivers license so they can go buy alcohol?

      Also the bill the Republicans proposed here in Minnesota a few years ago would have made verification less secure, not more. (Yes, I read the bill.) They wanted to eliminate a lot of the checks and balances used to verify that someone lives at an address, such as your cable bill, utility bill, or phone bill. All you needed was a drivers license, which. as I’ve already pointed out, is easy to obtain a fake.

      I’m not saying I’m against a voter ID system, but I am against the one the Republicans proposed. If we’re going to do this it has to be done well and take into the concerns of people on both sides of the isle. Make it a bipartisan effort that’s well thought out and well written and you’ll find you have a lot more support.

  10. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 01/19/2014 - 07:57 am.

    Heads in the Sand

    If a local news station sent out minors to try and cigarettes, and they had an almost perfect success rate, would you then conclude that it only worked in those special cases or would you wonder if there was a larger problem happening?
    We spend billions of dollars on elections, essentially trying to get out the marginal voter. It’s crazy to think that if there was a low risk way to add to vote totals that it wouldn’t be used. That’s why finding the loopholes (and closing them!) is important.
    That means:
    – Keeping voter rolls updated. Striking felons and dead voters at least. Finding a way to remove those that have moved.
    – Making certain that absentee ballots are only cast by those whose names are on them.
    – Making certain that voters aren’t casting both absentee and in person ballots. (There was a case about this in Faribault this year.)

    And yes, we should make sure that all eligible voters have ID and then use it. This is standard practice throughout the rest of the world, isn’t it?

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/19/2014 - 12:29 pm.

      No comparison

      The consequences of illegally buying cigarettes are not comparable to the consequences of illegal voting. Although I never have been a smoker, I attempted (often successfully) to purchase beer in dozens of Twin Cities bars before I was 21. I had little moral or legal concern about doing so. I never considered voting illegally because of moral and legal concerns, and the limited benefit in casting a single vote. Its not a fair comparison.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/20/2014 - 09:46 am.

      No comparison at all

      It depends on where the local news station sent the minors to buy smokes. Did they go to random stores, or did they identify stores suspected of being a problem? If it was the latter, I would not conclude there is a widespread problem.

      “This is standard practice throughout the rest of the world, isn’t it?” Is that our standard now?

  11. Submitted by Jim Peterson on 01/19/2014 - 08:37 am.

    Legitimising The Scorn

    Considering the conservative’s typical scornful and malevolent attitude towards those who are already disadvantaged, it follows that they would make these illegitimate attempts to disenfranchise them as well.

    Perhaps if the GOP managed, somehow, to lose a bit of their superiority complex and stop sneering at the less fortunate, they could attract some of their votes legitimately rather than denying them their rights.

  12. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/19/2014 - 09:12 am.

    It’s obvious to the casual observer

    how important it is to democrats to prevent the law from requiring that voters identify themselves. If people had to prove they had a legal right to vote, the democrats would never win another election. We all know it, why don’t they just admit the obvious?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/19/2014 - 07:50 pm.

      wow dennis

      That’s rich, even for you. So just to clarify your argument, it is your assertion that the only reason that anyone besides a Republican,(in every election, everywhere) wins an election is through fraudulent means. People wonder why our country is in the state its in, this is the answer.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 01/20/2014 - 12:01 am.

      Just when I think I’ve read

      the most ridiculous thing on the internet, suddenly a new contender emerges.

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 01/20/2014 - 09:48 am.



        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/24/2014 - 04:55 pm.

          Not Good!

          Hey, look at the alternative: he could be equally disconnected, but on the liberal side. Thankfully he’s on the conservative side of the coin and doing a miserable job of articulating their position.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/19/2014 - 10:39 am.

    recycling fraudulent claims…

    “That distinction that Pat Berg wrote about is exactly what I wanted to emphasize. The fraud was not found; what was found was how easy it is to fool the system.”

    This claim of undetected fraud on massive levels hasn’t merely failed, it has been completely discredited over and over again. Guys like Dan McGrath had two years to produce a single case of undetected voter fraud and failed. As for ACORN, it is a fact that not a single fraudulent vote was actually cast as the result of their application fraud. ACORN was investigated for producing fraudulent applications in order to meet quotas, a fraudulent application does not produce a phantom voter out of thin air, a real person has to actually show up and fill out a ballot. Phantom applications don’t produce phantom voters… some people keep forgetting that there’s no such thing as magic.

    Despite the complete lack of evidence and all the evidence to the contrary true believers continue to make all these bogus voter fraud claims, they’re not interested in evidence. They’ve done goofy things like made “undercover” videos of themselves asking state workers if they could register as Elvis Presley if they wanted to assuming that they’d be able to register and vote… but they never actually tested the system. One woman (not in MN) actually did test the system by filing a fraudulent voter registration just to prove how easy it was… and she’s now a convicted felon serving prison time.

    These ID laws keep legitimate voters away from the ballot box, period. From a legal perspective it’s not a partisan issue, in fact one of the court rulings stated that they didn’t think it was unconstitutional for a party to maximize it’s votes at the ballot box. The problem is that these laws keep anyone who can’t meet overly strict criteria from voting. Some of the courts refused to rule until the laws went into effect and we could actually see how or if they restrict voting rights. That’s what’s happening now. As more states look at the results of these laws they will be struck down. We now have actual disenfranchised voters with legal standing, technically we didn’t have that BEFORE the laws went into effect.

  14. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 01/19/2014 - 09:51 pm.

    How sad is it

    That receiving a free ID is too big a burden. Good luck getting a job. No wonder the unemployment rate continues to decline.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/20/2014 - 08:58 am.

      And so it goes…

      Free IDs? You get your drivers license for free do ya Tom? These laws don’t hand out free IDs. You have to pay, and then if you can prove you can’t afford it, and only then, you may get a refund. Proving you can’t afford $15.00 is not easy to do so refunds go flow easy. This is why these requirements amount to de facto poll taxes in many cases.

      And again, it’s not the cost of ID, or even the ID requirement. One problem with these so-called ID laws is that a lot of crap having nothing to do with ID is actually rolled in with the laws. For instance the MN version we defeated would have prevented new citizens from voting within three months of becoming a new citizen even if they had a valid ID. It would also have given legislators new powers to declare people mentally incompetent to vote. The biggest problem with most of these laws is the creation of a whole new layer of electoral bureaucracy in the form of provisional ballots. Those are ballots (4,000 of them in MN according to SUPPORTERS of voter ID) that the government simply refuses to count unless or until someone makes them count them. In Florida 96% of the provisional ballots never get counted. These are not fraudulent votes, these are legal votes that the government refuses to count. Basically these ID laws turn our constitution on it’s head, instead of being innocent until proven guilty, i.e. requiring that the government prove your guilty, (i.e. a fraud) it creates a system where you have to prove your innocent (not a fraud) before being allowed to vote. For a bunch of people who claim to believe in “limited” government, that hands an awful lot of power over to the government.

      We went through all this already, you read about these hidden requirement on my blog:

      Again, we just keep getting the same bogus claims and misinformation recycled again and again from ID advocates.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 01/21/2014 - 09:39 pm.

        I did pay for my driver’s license

        “You have to pay, and then if you can prove you can’t afford it, and only then, you may get a refund.”

        What state does this apply to? I’m having trouble finding one that has this law. I have heard that various legislating bodies have offered free IDs to help solve the “no money” or “poll tax” arguments, but I didn’t realize that some had been enacted.

        How do the poll tax people feel about raising the fees to run for office (say, mayor of Mpls.)? Shall we exclude the poor from serving in public office? Given their under-representation in Congress (over half of Congresspersons are millionaires) it seems like we should make it easier for the poor to get elected, not harder.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/22/2014 - 07:44 am.

          Please don’t try to hijack the thread

          This is a discussion about voter id and the issues surrounding it, not a discussion about what the requirements should be to run for public office.

          Please don’t try to hijack the thread.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/20/2014 - 09:20 am.

    The assumptions were always funny as well

    “That receiving a free ID is too big a burden. Good luck getting a job. No wonder the unemployment rate continues to decline.”

    In MN the majority of voters without ID are retired senior citizens who have long since paid their dues a citizens. They’re not looking for jobs Tom, they’re retired.

    It was always funny, supporters of ID laws always make these weird assumptions about who in the world does not have a MN drivers license. They never took the time to find out who these people really are, like active military personnel, or senior citizens, or new arrivals, or people who ride bicycles. The most bizarre assumption is that fraudulent voters are liberals who vote for Democrats. One of the handful of voter fraud cases in MN was a felon who voted for Republicans. The reason we know he voted for republicans is he told his parole officer. Why bother with reality when you have so many perfectly good stereotypes?

    It’s a really good thing that we didn’t change our constitution based on a bunch of bogus stereotypes.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/20/2014 - 10:18 am.

    The other thing about the free IDs

    The ID itself wasn’t even the big cost for most individuals. In order to get the ID you need several other documents that you’d also have to pay for, and travel around to get. It was estimated that a retired senior without an ID (and no reason to have one) would have to spend up to ten hours and $80 to get one. The only thing the state might pay for was the ID itself, so $60 to $70 would come out of the senior pocket… just to they could cast a vote. And again, these aren’t frauds, these are legal voters who have been casting legitimate votes for decades.

    It’s funny, voter ID laws spend tens of millions of dollars and disenfranchise legitimate voters all because some Republican voters want to feel better about our electoral system. Free information isn’t enough for them.

  17. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/20/2014 - 08:44 pm.

    A few more thoughts

    I am glad I can stir the pot a little bit – a fair discussion is the only way to get somewhere.

    First, I’d like to know what I stated that is false. That is a strong accusation and must be supported by facts. And please stop referring to requiring a voter ID as “restricting the right to vote” and “voter suppression.” It is the same as saying that a requirement to register is a restriction of the voting rights since it makes people do something before voting. In order to register, one has to show some papers which may not be free to obtain. Having an ID during voting process is no different than having to register.

    A few more comments. If it is not clear that any illegal vote has occurred as a result of fraudulent registration forms, it means that the system did not work. In working system we know that no illegal votes occur. As for people who vote without knowing who they vote for, I’d like to have an experiment and ask democratic voters what party Lincoln belonged to – and see what they would say. And if majority of Minnesota voters without ID are seniors, why would Republicans be pushing it and why would Democrats be opposing? After all, the older the voter, the higher the chance he or she will vote Republican.

    Now, I do believe that there should be some sort of civic tests before people are allowed to vote. First, young people develop their full logical abilities only by the mid or late twenties – that is a medical fact; that is of course an average age and here is where a test may come handy. Second, I had to pass a citizenship test before getting my citizenship and a right to vote. Unfortunately, seeing how Social Studies are taught in school, I can guess that a lot of people will not pass that (very simple) test. Voting for someone just based on the party affiliation is plain wrong and should not be encourages. In fact, we do not need more voters; we need more informed voters. The least we can do is to require voter ID so those who don’t care enough to bother to have a (free) voter ID will not vote. As I said, it is not voter suppression – it is common sense.

    Unfortunately, some people keep confusing equal opportunity with sameness. Everyone shall have an opportunity to advance but it doesn’t mean that everyone shall be in the same position and earn the same. Everyone shall have an opportunity to vote but it doesn’t mean that everyone must be forced to vote or allowed to vote no matter what. Legal aliens pay taxes but do not have the right to vote – is it taxation without representation? Compared to that, having to have an ID is a minor requirement. Voting is the right but there is a reason for some limitations.

    By the way, whatever I said before, applies to both parties supporters equally. I also never said that I support any voter ID law – it must be reasonable and take into account all possible problems (and I appreciate Eric’s note that the judge left that opportunity open). The problem is that for many Democrats, it is such a political issue that they would never support ANY voter ID law, no matter how good and balanced it is.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/21/2014 - 11:35 am.

      Better voters

      That is one of the most anti-democratic (small d) notions I have heard in a long time.

      I agree that the civic education of Americans is appalling. That is, however, an inherent feature of the system. We allow all citizens to vote because they are all affected by the results of the election. We don’t restrict voting to some who, by a metric someone will have to define, is sufficiently knowledgeable. Sorry, but that’s not how democracy works. We let the ill-informed speak and vote along with the smarter folks.

      A better idea would be to require candidates for office to take (not necessarily pass) a civics test. There was a proposal a few years back in Montana (if I recall) that would have required candidates for state offices to take a test on the US and state Constitutions. There was no passing score, but scores would be public information. You could see what your legislators really know.

      I can, of course, hear the objections. The biggest one would be that the test was to be drafted by academics from the state university. I think we know what the contemporary conservative thinks of educated people (or educated people who disagree with them).

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/21/2014 - 12:31 pm.


      As it seems you like to research the history of your adopted home, please read up on the Jim Crow south as it pertains to your “civics test”. You obviously missed the connotation, which would be understandable given you may not have been aware of it. Secondly, pretty much everything you state past that point reflects a deep misunderstanding of the voting process, it is not a privilege to be earned, it is a constitutionally guaranteed right of citizenship, period. You might disagree, but that’s what you signed up for by becoming g a citizen of our wonderful, diverse, flawed, and great nation.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/21/2014 - 04:59 pm.


      If I were going to have a civics test to vote, the first person to be excluded would be you. Your ignorance of the constitution and American history is simply astonishing. The most uniformed voters out there aren’t the young or young Democrats, but people who get all their information from Fox News. My civics test would ask where the President was born, which is something a lof of uninformed Tea Party voters can’t seem to figure out. I’m curious – where to you think the president was born?

      Don’t worry, though, I would never, ever, in a a million years suggest that we require such a test. I actually believe in and understand the constitution.

  18. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/21/2014 - 11:53 am.

    So far this problem is hypothetical

    “The problem is that for many Democrats, it is such a political issue that they would never support ANY voter ID law, no matter how good and balanced it is.”

    And another hypothetical:
    If contractors were required to pay $1,000,000 for a license, would that be restricting your right to enter the contracting field?
    It would be no problem for a major contracting corporation bidding on a big job (note the consortiums of contractors set up specifically to bid on big jobs like the new Tappan Zee bridge and the replacement I-35 bridge).

    In theory, opportunity would be equal. Not in practice.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/21/2014 - 12:54 pm.

    Ilya and Paul

    ILya: “Now, I do believe that there should be some sort of civic tests before people are allowed to vote. ” ILya, such tests are specifically prohibited by our constitution. Please take the time to read our constitution before trying to change it. I’m not going to stop referring to ID laws as voter restrictions because that’s what they are, that’s what they do, and that’s what they’re designed to do. These laws do absolutely nothing to improve the integrity of the electoral system, they simply create unnecessary requirements for voters.

    “A few more comments. If it is not clear that any illegal vote has occurred as a result of fraudulent registration forms, it means that the system did not work. In working system we know that no illegal votes occur.”

    I don’t know why you continue to be confused about this. Voter registration fraud is NOT unclear, we capture and prosecute fraud in every election cycle. We capture fraud because we look for it, not by accident, and because we’re NOT looking for it. Just because a system isn’t perfect, i.e. ZERO fraud, doesn’t mean it isn’t working. The only fact that’s clearer than the fact that we don’t have a lot of voter fraud is the the fact that fraud is having no effect on our election outcomes. At any rate, restricting legal votes won’t make the system work better than it already is, and may well damage the integrity.

    Paul: “And another hypothetical:
    If contractors we required to pay $1,000,000 for a license, would that be restricting your right to enter the contracting field?”

    You don’t have a constitutional right to enter the contracting field. There’s a difference between opening a business and voting.

    I’ve seen these “equality-sameness” arguments before but frankly they’re just incoherent and don’t seem to have anything to do with voting. I’m not sure where this line of thought comes from, maybe Ayn Rand?

    Some people don’t seem to understand the difference between a constitutional right and an economic opportunity. It’s a good thing we didn’t let people who are so confused about such basic stuff limit our right to vote and mess with our constitution, bravo MN!

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/21/2014 - 07:53 pm.

      My statement

      was an analogy–
      not perfect, but I hope it made a point.
      Although one might argue that the 14th Amendment’s requirement of equality before the law could be extended to the principle that all state regulations that have the force of law should apply equally to all individuals.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/21/2014 - 11:15 am.

    I wouldn’t support a kidnapping law either

    No matter how good and balanced the law, I just think kidnapping is a bad idea.

  21. Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/21/2014 - 01:08 pm.


    Since logical faculties only coalesce in the late twenties (in your opinion anyway) we should then of course logically restrict all the activities of majority until that time. No marriage, no contracts, no military service (ha!), no tax collection, restrictions on employment, yeah that sounds wonderful. Only wish you could have gotten it done back when I was that age, certainly would have been preferably to striking out on my own at 19. Oh and by the way, you might check into that claim that voters trend Republican as they age, we have this thing called Medicare here, the elderly tend to like it, Republicans, not so much.

  22. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/21/2014 - 08:47 pm.

    Great discussion

    It is interesting to note that I am constantly being accused of something while my ideas are not really challenged on their merit. So where do I start?

    I’ll start with the agreement: I also think it would be a great idea to have a civics test for all candidates for a public office. I do know that voting is a right not a privilege (and I mentioned it in my previous post) but it is incorrect that all citizens are allowed to vote: there are age and mental competency limitations and convicted felons are not allowed to vote. So voting limitations are possible; the question is where to draw the line.

    Yes, I am well aware of the Jim Crow laws but their goal was indeed to disenfranchise a specific group of voters. Which group of voters will my system disenfranchise? Ill-informed, I guess, but that is not a protected class of people to the best of my knowledge. Should it be? And how does allowing those ill-informed citizens to vote make our country better? Why not allow 5th graders to vote – some of them may know and understand much more than quite a few ill-informed citizens.

    Of course the easiest way to debate is to accuse the other side of not knowing anything. Obviously, if I watched Fox News only, I would not have been writing here so people stepping down to this level of accusations should be ashamed. I personally am not a big fan of Tea Party and think that “birthers” are irrelevant. But for those who like trivia, I can ask what party Lincoln belonged to and which president created OSHA, EPA, SSI, signed Clean Air and Title IX acts, and made affirmative action applicable to classes of people rather than individuals as it was originally envisioned.

    I like an example of contractor’s paying a million dollars for a license. What about a hundred – does it make it unfair? For some – maybe, but it keeps the bad ones out and that is why this system of licenses actually exists everywhere. So even though contracting is not a constitutional right, an analogy may to certain degree work.

    Now, I wonder how come no one answered my point about voting registration. In order to register, one has to present documents proving citizenship. I showed my naturalization papers and I think natural born citizens should show either a birth certificate or a passport. Both of those documents are not free to get! Does it make registration process voter suppression? Can registration be referred to as “disenfranchising?”

    Also, I really doubt that we are really looking for voter registration fraud. Or maybe we do in the same way we were looking for voter intimidation in Philadelphia in 2008… which was found to not had happened by the DOJ.

    And finally, for those interested in brain development in youths, here is a place:

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/22/2014 - 09:20 am.

      ILya, the voter restrictions you refer to are the either the result of constitutional law, or due process applied to individual cases. The problem with Voter ID laws is that they apply restrictions to all voters and take away the right to vote with an administrative procedure that declares no-one has a right to vote. There’s no due process, you just don’t have the right to vote anymore unless you prove your not a fraud. And the required “proof” doesn’t actually prevent fraud, it just prevents legitimate voting.

      “Also, I really doubt that we are really looking for voter registration fraud.”

      As I said before, folks like yourself are simply not interested in evidence. You just decide what you believe and work backwards from there and there’s no confusing you with the facts. Your entire argument flows out your refusal to accept facts. In MN every voter registration goes through an initial 9 step verification process, and if any of those steps trip a flag and additional 4-5 more steps are deployed. Just because you’re not aware of the process doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You also don’t seem to understand the difference between registering and casting a vote. You cannot vote without registering. Most MN’s are pre-registered but we also have same day registration. All registrations go through the same verification procedures. It is a felony to knowingly cast a fraudulent vote and when people get caught, and they are caught, they are prosecuted. You can deny these fact all you want but denying them doesn’t make them disappear. Now, you can believe whatever you want, but if you want to argue that all kinds of undetected fraud is taking place you have to provide evidence. You people have had over a decade to produce that evidence and all we keep finding out is that there is that there is little if any undetected voter fraud taking place.

      “Now, I wonder how come no one answered my point about voting registration. In order to register, one has to present documents proving citizenship. I showed my naturalization papers and I think natural born citizens should show either a birth certificate or a passport. Both of those documents are not free to get! Does it make registration process voter suppression? Can registration be referred to as “disenfranchising?””

      All those points have been addressed here, go back and read the thread.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/22/2014 - 10:03 am.

      You’re citing a newspaper article

      as an expert opinion on child development?
      There is a sizable professional literature (some of which is vaguely cited in your link) on brain and cognitive development (not the same thing at all).
      It is true that most human brains have reached their mature physical form by the mid ’20’s, but we know much less about function (speaking as a professional psychologist). Many people never develop fully cognitively; most continue to develop (for better or worse) throughout their lifetime. The consensus is that pure cognitive function peaks in the early 20’s, but the gradual decline after that is (in most cases) more than compensated for by gains in knowledge and judgement.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/22/2014 - 01:30 pm.

    Cognitive devopment and what not…

    I would remind people that we lowered the voting age because we send 18 and 19 year olds into combat when we go to war. At the time, we had a draft and it’s simply wrong to have a democracy where the people most likely to fight our wars have no say whatsoever in whether we go to war. The vote gives them some voice. Hey, if we had cognitive tests guys like Rush Limbaugh would never qualify… I’m still against it though. Democracy isn’t necessarily about individual developmental issues and anyways developmental issues can’t always to tied to age. I see an awful lot of people in much older than 30 voting very stupidly.

    But you know, ILya actually illustrates a point I like to make frequently, when you look at a lot of conservative positions on voting and public policy you see that the real problem is that conservatives don’t really believe in democracy. This is why you see them make weird statements like: “this isn’t a democracy it’s a Republic” etc. At it’s core, democracy is a gamble, the gamble that in large numbers voters will produce good outcomes. Conservatives don’t trust people, they don’t trust human intellect, and ultimately they don’t believe voters have the capacity to produce good results. This is why dictatorships always emerge from the conservative end of the spectrum, they believe in dictating. They tend to assume that their qualified to dictate because their the smartest people in the room and they have the best “principles”. If this weren’t a delusion they might have a point.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/22/2014 - 09:09 pm.


      Which makes their constant obsession with things like Objectivism all the more bizarre. If the citizenry is too incompetent to function in a basic task like voting, his is that they expect society to manage even a modicum of success in the sort of Randian utopia they envision? Do those they consider incompetent become magically cured? I suspect I know the answer, but that is something I’m sure would never be admitted to, and is of course further afield than the already tenuous linkage to the article we have reached this far. In any case, the absolute contradictions in position alone should illuminate the true motives of voter ID initiatives, to return power to the “correct” people (in the author’s opinion) whilst relegating the “inferiors” to their rightful place as pawns of the powerful. Its the same dance that has been happening since our first ancestors decided to place value in a shiny rock, and ascribe status to those who had a lot of them.

  24. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/22/2014 - 01:43 pm.

    The irony is…

    Most of the time it’s pretty clear that the people advocating some kind of cognitive or citizens test would obviously not be able to pass such a test themselves. After all, these are people who think weather phenomena like Polar Vortex’s are “liberal” creations. Talk about cognitive handicaps. They tend to have no idea what’s actually in the US Constitution, even WHEN they carry a copy in their back pocket all the time. Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea after all 🙂

  25. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/22/2014 - 08:35 pm.

    Facts and theories

    Apparently, empty accusations are still there. I am very much interested in evidence. Is there any evidence that voter ID law ever prevented anyone from voting? In fact, these laws, to the best of my knowledge, have all been struck down on the basis that they “might” prevent eligible voters from casting a vote. It has never actually happened. So there is even less evidence of voters’ suppression than that of voters’ disenfranchising.

    And no, my comparison of registration requirements to showing ID during voting process has never been addressed – I re-read all posts. Paul mention multiple verifications steps during registration process many of which, I would guess, require showing some papers. So what is the difference between that and showing one more document at the polls? There is none.

    Of course I also know why voting age was lowered to 18. At that time it made sense because of the draft; there is no draft anymore. But I did not argue for changing the voting age (read my posts); I was arguing for some tests for everyone. Again, how voting by ill-informed and uninformed benefit democracy?

    Now about democracy itself. Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except others are even worse and I agree. When I came to America, I expected it to be a Utopia; it is not and it cannot be. Democracy has its flaws and may be improved (or made worse) but I still strongly believe in it.
    I am an independent and I do in fact trust that most people will ultimately make the right choice and so do most conservatives who advocate for more personal responsibility. Ironically, it is liberals who don’t trust people and want government to help and make decisions for them. That is how it was in the Soviet Union – all decisions were made by Politburo.

    I also find a statement that all dictatorships come from the right a sign of ignorance. In fact, worst dictatorships came from the left (Soviet Union, China, Kampuchea, Cuba, North Korea, etc. – should I continue?) Yes, there were a few dictators who were right leaning, but, interestingly, many, such as Franco and Pinochet, lead their countries to peaceful transition to democracy. I can’t think of any communist dictator who gave up his power.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/23/2014 - 06:16 am.


      You missed few, as its a mite cliché, I’ll refrain from naming the most glaring example. As for communists giving up power, I guess I missed the civil war in the USSR? Now there were demonstrations and vague threats of conflict sure, but the breakup was for the most part a peaceful affair. It is interesting to note that in all cases, regardless of which “end of the spectrum” the original revolution sprung, it resulted in the same outcome, a small group of people with vastly outsized wealth and power controlling a much larger majority with minimal reserves of each. More of a statement on human nature than any political ideology in my opinion. Also rather chilling as one looks at the current situation of your supposed utopia.
      As for wanting government in the decision making business, its less a matter of yes or no, and more about what decisions each side is looking for, liberals for the most part are simply looking to prevent exploitation of some people by others (corporations, bigots, the wealthy) while conservatives wish to decide matters of morality for everyone involved (abortion, contraception, drugs, marriage, etc…). Yes I am aware that this is a broad brush, but it covers the broad policy plans of the major elements of the two parties in power.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 01/23/2014 - 07:26 am.

      Too bad your interest in evidence

      doesn’t extend to providing any that voter fraud actually exists.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/23/2014 - 09:05 am.


      There does not need to be any evidence in order to strike down a bad law. That’s where cognizant reasoning comes in: with a little thought you can see what the effects are going to be. In order to get this ID, you’re going to need this and that documentation in order to prove who you are. What does it take to get that particular documentation? Where do you need to go, what hours are that agency open, and what are the costs to get a copy of that documentation?

      It’s pretty simple to follow the bouncing ball and see that while the ID may be free, it costs money to get the papers needed to get the ID.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/23/2014 - 09:08 am.


      “Apparently, empty accusations are still there. I am very much interested in evidence. Is there any evidence that voter ID law ever prevented anyone from voting?”

      Yes, there are several cases working their way through courts right now. The first was an elderly black woman in Virginia. If you actually cared about evidence as you claim, you’d know this.

      Now your just recycling your questions as if they haven’t been answered or addressed. The difference between the ID requirements and other requirement has been thoroughly discussed. Sometimes one can read but fail to comprehend.

      Actually I didn’t say dictatorships come from the “left”, I said they come from the conservative end of the spectrum. There was never anything remotely liberal about Lenin or Stalin or Marx. In fact they hated hated liberals for a variety of reasons. Communism is actually one of he most conservative ideologies in history. I know that fact confuses a lot of people, but it’s true.

      You know this business of personal responsibility extents to ones intellect. We have all these conservatives running around yack yack yacking about personal responsibility but in a day and age where accurate and reliable information is more readily available than ever before, they consistently locate and rely on wildly inaccurate and unreliable information. When you try to explain something they argue, as if arguments determine reality, as if they can argue a Polar Vortex into being a liberal fantasy instead of a meteorological event. That’s how reactionaries think, reality has to conform to ideology… a really good example of that is Stalinism.

  26. Submitted by jason myron on 01/22/2014 - 11:20 pm.


    to me, it crystallizes into one basic belief…these people can’t comprehend that anyone would vote for anything other than “conservative principals.” They just can’t wrap their head around the fact that a majority of the country thinks their wrong. So, they go with conspiracy…busloads of voters, driven in and told who to vote for, college students going from precinct to precinct, voting multiple times (a contention put forth on this board by someone last fall), Black Panthers harassing potential voters in Philadelphia (one guy standing outside a polling place). People must be too stupid to have the right to vote if they’re voting for anyone other than a Republican….hence the call for civics tests, the derogatory accusations of “low information voters” or that they can’t compete with “free stuff”. A Tea Party candidate in the South stated that only people that own property should be allowed to vote. This entire thing is nothing but the systematic weeding out of anyone that could possibly vote for a Democratic candidate. It’s cliche, but completely accurate…many of these people reside in a bubble of their own reality. I’ve never really experienced anything like it in my 50+ years on the planet.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/23/2014 - 10:02 am.

      Voting Process

      I would like to take this opportunity to point out that many of the voter judges are Republicans. We’re required by law to have a mix of various parties at the polling places. So if there’s this rampant voter fraud going on, wouldn’t the judges see it? Wouldn’t they say something if they saw a suspicious situation?

      I live in a first tier suburb that has a very strong immigrant population–prime territory for voter fraud if ever there was one. And yet I don’t see people coming in to vote for someone else, posing as a citizen when they’re not, vouching in appropriately, nor busloads of voters pulling up out front. Where exactly is this fraud happening then if not here? If it’s happening “somewhere else” and not here, then perhaps it isn’t as widespread as it’s made out to be, assuming it happens at all.

      Since 1992 I’ve worked as an election judge, many of those years as head election judge and mostly in my home precinct, which puts me in a position to see first hand all these terrible things that have been supposedly going on right under my nose. I know and recognize my neighbors as they walk in the door and would know if someone comes in to vote in their staid. And the same can be said of my other judges too as most of them come from the same precinct.

      We also have an after action review a few weeks after the elections. The city clerk gets together the head judges and co-chairs to talk about any issues and irregularities that popped up as well as feedback from the county and state. The only thing that’s popped up is one precinct has some nutjob who comes in each election cycle, loudly yells that he’s an illegal immigrant, and then scurries out without voting before anyone can talk to him. At this point the judges are used to seeing him and don’t give him much heed beyond a chuckle.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/23/2014 - 10:30 am.

      Voter Intentions

      Jason, you raise a good point, namely that Republicans can’t believe that anyone in their right mind would ever vote Democrat. Locally the whole voter ID and voter fraud issue came about only recently after the Republicans lost the senate race to Al Franken and the governorship to Dayton. The only possible reason for that in their minds as there must be voter fraud. This, of course, is not logical as at the same time the Republicans gained control of the state House and Senate. The fraudsters are so diabolically clever as to win a couple of key races, yet at the same time so incompetent that they lost the state legislature.

      When that argument failed, they switch from “there must be fraud” to “we’re not looking for fraud, so how do you know,” to “there could be fraud and therefor we need to tighten the system,” changing the argument du jour to fit their agenda. At each turn they’ve been proven with data to be wrong, but those facts don’t support the agenda and therefor must be wrong or ignored outright.

      Personally, I would support a voter ID law if it’s done properly and takes into account people’s concerns that it will disenfranchise voters. To date I haven’t seen anything that will fit that bill though.

      I am, however, opposed to simply spending money where it’s not needed. Budgets are already tight across all levels of government and the process used to create this free ID are anything but free. At a minimum you’re looking at tens of millions of dollars to roll out this program just for the state of Minnesota. We have real problems that need to be solved and can use those funds.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/24/2014 - 05:53 pm.

        One of my Facebook friends is from Georgia,

        a former fellow graduate student who is one of that increasingly rare breed, a conservative who is willing to discuss things logically and consider counter-arguments unemotionally. Some of the people who participate in his threads, however, are hardcore Southern Republican fundamentalists, and one of them commented ,”I don’t know how Obama got elected. I don’t know anybody who voted for him.”

        It would be easy to convince such a person that Democrats win only through fraud or that the Democrats stay in power only because they’re so generous with welfare benefits. (I once asked a right-wing Minnesotan, who was ranting about how Obama won Minnesota only because all the people on welfare voted for him, “Do you really believe that the majority of the people in this state are on welfare?” He had to admit that this was unlikely, but it didn’t stop him from launching into the same rant the next time he had the chance.)

  27. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/23/2014 - 09:00 am.


    While Republicans do indeed advocate for personal responsibility, it’s not enough to simply take their mantra at face value. You need to take a look at their motivations came from.

    The whole responsibility movement stems from a desire by businesses to reduce government oversight, thereby allowing them to forgo environment, safety, and employment regulations. Here’s how the system works:

    1. Reduce the issue to a simple sound bite that even low information voters can understand and repeat. “I’m for personal responsibility” is much easier to disseminate and digest than a nuanced discussion on why we need regulations to protect our environment and workers.

    2. Paint the issue in black and white terms. “I’m for something and my opponent isn’t like me, therefor he is against the principles I stand for.” Even Ms Gutman falls into that trap above, saying “… it is liberals who don’t trust people and want government to help and make decisions for them.” Which, of course, is not true at all. But it’s a convenient narrative when you’re trying to paint the opposition as the Other that can’t be trusted.

    3. Repeat your talking points throughout the talk shows, press conferences, and blogs till it defines the debate and your opponent. Rather than have that rational debate about the merits of one side or the other, it’s much simpler, easier, and convenient to paint your opponent as an idiot.

  28. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/23/2014 - 09:41 am.

    Personal responsibility is a great way to live your life–I advocate it to my sons, nieces, and nephews all the time. But that point of view only gets you so far. At some point issues and problems get to be too big for one person to handle. Obviously the mantra breaks down when you’re trying to tackle big construction projects, such as an interstate highway system, a battleship, or even your own house. I think we can all agree, conservative and liberal alike, that these are situations where you need to pull in additional people to help you get the job done.

    Where the two sides differ is when it comes to social welfare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment benefits, and health care (Obamacare). Republicans typically characterize these programs as “taking other people’s money” or “just let people keep more of their money.”

    On the opposing side Democrats point out that the problems are too large for individuals to solve on their own and we need the collective resources of the nation as a whole to get the job done. Some projects are simply too large for even a small group of people to tackle on their own, let alone an individual.

  29. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/23/2014 - 10:12 am.

    Personal resposibility continued

    Actually, over decades I’ve come to realize that the conservative mantra of personal responsibility more often than not is simply incoherent. Why is it for instance irresponsible when a single mother feed her children with food stamps if that’s the only way she can feed her children? Then of course you have the ongoing spectacle of white conservative men constantly dodging personal responsibility. How often do Rush Limbaugh or O’Reilly apologized or correct any of the ridiculous statements they constantly make? From toe tapping in airport bathrooms to manslaughter on SD highways these guys are constantly claiming it wasn’t their fault, it’s a witch hunt, etc. Somehow these folks have concluded that dishonesty and evasion are the bedrock of personal responsibility.

    Beside, it’s a meaningless principle for the most part because no one is advocating for or championing personal irresponsibility. At best this is argument with one’s own shadow. Just like “fiscal responsibility” and “limited government”. Since no one runs on a platform of fiscal irresponsibility or unlimited government these are mundane observations pretending to be high minded principles. What’s frustrating it that Democrats have such a hard time repelling such incoherent arguments. I mean, all you gotta say is: “We believe in fiscal responsibility as well, and we’re better at it than Republicans”. Look at the Reagan and Bush deficits and recessions.

  30. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/23/2014 - 10:15 pm.

    Final points

    It looks like I am keeping this discussion alive since everyone is trying to “get” me. Ok, it’s getting boring because you recycle your arguments that all republicans are stupid and evil and democrats are always right – that is not funny anymore. I hate stepping down to personal matters – I tried to keep it about ideas – but I almost have to. Here are a few final points.

    Matt refrained from naming the most glaring things I missed – interesting because he and others were not holding punches before; so my guess is that he just couldn’t actually find anything. Yes, Gorbachev gave up power but he actually came to that power by pure chance; if it were Romanov who became the Secretary General of the Communist party, I would not be able to write this here (I was there at that time so you may trust me on that – or read some literature). I also didn’t get his point about my supposed utopia – he probably didn’t understand my post. Of course liberals want to protect me (well, mostly those who they think can’t survive without them) from exploitation because they think that they know better; Galich, a poet and a Soviet dissident killed by the KGB, said that one needs to be afraid of only one thing in life – those who think that they know what to do. And liberals fit this category perfectly – they always say they know what everyone has to do. The next step is that they will say that they know what everyone needs to think; wait, that has happened already. And again, I am an independent with some libertarian part – I don’t care what people do in their own homes.

    Todd said that there is no need for evidence to strike down a bad law. Sure, he knows which law is bad and which one is good so we do not need our Congress and President anymore. He also says that in order to get an ID, one needs this and that documentation. Sure, but in order to register you also need this and that documentation. So again, what is the difference? He also assigns inferior motives to Republican’s call for personal responsibility such as getting government off the businesses backs. Well, that may help them hire more people, maybe… He is also accusing me of saying that liberals don’t trust people and want more government. Wait a minute, they do not try to hide that the government, in their minds, is the solution to all societal problems (or maybe I don’t understand what they are saying?). The Obamacare is the latest example. And what is an affirmative action if not an example of liberals’ not trusting minorities with making the right decisions and succeeding without help? It’s very patronizing. However, I do agree with him that some projects are too big and government is needed – landing on the Moon is a prime example. But the problem is where to stop and giving government assistance to almost half the nation is way too much.

    Paul said that there are a few cases of voter ID laws preventing people from voting and mentioned one case pending in court. I search Internet and found a case in Tennessee. So not exactly an avalanche of discrimination – surely less than voter fraud however minimal that might be. And he again accuses me of not being able to comprehend what I read. If I were the type to feel offended all the time, I would accuse him of implying that I can’t understand English because I am an immigrant…. I will not – he just means that since I am “a conservative” I can’t comprehend anything. Anyway, he is the second one (after Matt) sparing my ego by not pointing out the arguments I missed… He is also the second one who really didn’t read my post: I have not said that he stated that dictatorships come from the left – it was actually me who said that. He said (and repeated here) that dictatorships come from conservatism. Well, Lenin was a communist and on the very left side of the spectrum in Russia which means he was to the left of liberal Provisional Government. Conservatives there wanted to keep a tsar. So calling Marx and Lenin conservatives is a new (and very revolutionary) word in history and may confuse even historians. And of course no one is saying that Polar Vortex is a liberal fantasy; maybe Paul confused that with Global Warming but those are two different things. And his example of a single mother on food stamps begs some questions: Where is the father? Does she know the concept of contraceptives? What age did she get a child at? And so on…. And I don’t even want to get into conservative personalities issue – just look at all the latest problems at MSNBC.

    Jason said that conservatives can’t understand why someone votes democratic and try to invent conspiracy theories. Well, just today, Robert Reich published an article (Huffington Post) the main point of which is that the only reason the working class is voting Republican is fear – talk about conspiracy theories. As for just one Black Panther member standing outside – check Wikipedia page for that: I counted three on the picture there.

    Thanks again for discussion. By the way, I am a male and a second letter in my first name is not capitalized (and I am not upset that you made those mistakes – just for the future discussions).

    • Submitted by Susanne Wissink on 01/24/2014 - 10:55 am.

      No one is out to “get” you, but

      If “everyone” misinterprets what you said and you have to keep repeating the same thing over and over, perhaps it is you and not them. Pointing out that there is a flaw in your logic or you are missing important facts is part of the discourse on this site.

      The main reason I really like this site is because the commentators are refreshingly rational and straight forward. With the exception of a few, people back up their comments with facts and provide cites for them. When asked, they provide the logic that backs up their conclusion. I have found that very few are so rigid in their thinking that they are not willing to see another viewpoint. In fact, most of the questioning is to add to their knowledge and reinterpret their own viewpoints.

      So, lashing out at Matt, Todd, Paul, and Jason did nothing to further your argument. Your initial statements still have no credibility.

  31. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/24/2014 - 08:32 am.


    Ilya, no one is trying to get your goat. People are simply pointing out the inconsistencies in your arguments. What they’re doing in effect is asking you to step up your game because, to be blunt, your logic is not very good.

    Case in point.

    While it’s true that registering to vote requires documentation as does the proposed voter ID laws, it’s very disingenuous to assume that the two are the same and require the same amount of cost and effort to acquire them. Currently you just need a valid Minnesota driver’s license to register in this state. If you don’t have that, then certain photo IDs, such as an expired license, coupled with a utility bill will do the trick. Utility bills arrive at your home free of charge, compliments of the utility company.

    By contrast, many of the proposed voter ID laws require other forms of documentation, such as a birth certificate. The problem comes in because some people do not have their birth certificate and it takes time and money to go get one. And in many states you have to show up in person–you can’t just make a phone call and have it delivered to you.

    The elderly in particular have a hard time producing a birth certificate as it may have been lost to the sands of time or their parents may never have received one. And after 80+ years and many moves, their county of birth may be far away.

    So I have to ask something, Ilya. Are you simply unfamiliar with the voter registration process? Haven’t you studied the issues? If you are up to speed, why did you make such a basic mistake as the one I just detailed? If you’re not familiar with the issues and objections people have to these laws, why are you then not listening to the people who know more about the issue than you do? Did you miss the part where I said I’ve been an election judge for twenty years?

  32. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/24/2014 - 09:32 am.

    Just a couple points


    I’m honestly not trying to be personal or insult you, I’m just responding to your comments.

    ” Well, Lenin was a communist and on the very left side of the spectrum in Russia which means he was to the left of liberal Provisional Government. Conservatives there wanted to keep a tsar. So calling Marx and Lenin conservatives is a new (and very revolutionary) word in history and may confuse even historians. And of course no one is saying that Polar Vortex is a liberal fantasy; maybe Paul confused that with Global Warming but those are two different things. ”

    Again, your confusing “left and right” political spectrum’s with “conservative vs. liberal”. Left, does not necessarily mean liberal. A lot of people make this mistake but the basic fact is that there was absolutely nothing liberal about Marxism or the Soviet Union. Yes, there was a Russian revolution and you can characterize that as a battle between left and right, but it wasn’t a battle between liberals and conservatives. The revolution replaced one conservative regime with another conservative regime.

    Just because you didn’t find legal challenges based on disenfranchisement doesn’t mean they are there or their aren’t very many, in fact there are now several challenges. But let me get me this straight, if you find one instance of voter fraud you want to change the constitution because it MUST mean there thousands more we don’t see. You find ONE instance of disenfranchisement and you want to blow it off as insignificant?

    Rush Limbaugh claimed that the Polar Vortex was a liberal fantasy last week:

    I really appreciate Todd’s comment. Seriously, I’m not trying insult anyone, I would like see some people up their game. I really do believe that we need intelligent informed conservative voices as part of our political and social landscape. By pointing out that absence I’m hoping to prod some into existence.

  33. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/24/2014 - 10:58 am.


    There is another proposal that is a million times better than voter ID. Electronic poll records. I’m sure you seen in most polling places those 70s era printouts? Although those printouts still work surprisingly well we would have a lot better system if we switched to electronic records that would be on laptops and connected in real time to registration information. They could run many of the initial checks for same day registrants and they’d be much easier to update in general. AND electronic poll records would actually prevent close to 90% of our fraud. E-polls wouldn’t disenfranchise anyone or create any more voting requirements that anyone could find even remotely burdensome.

    90% of our fraud is people voting at the wrong location or felons or others who’ve lost their voting rights casting votes. E-polls would flag those folks in real time on election day. Voter ID would only in theory stop voter impersonations… of which there are ZERO.

    So you have one proposal that actually cleans up the system, makes it more efficient, prevents REAL fraud, and has no adverse effects on legal and legitimate voting. Compare that to voter ID that catches no fraud, creates a whole new election system, disenfranchises voters, and does nothing to actually improve efficiency or integrity.

    By the way, a bill establishing electronic poll books was introduced and passed a few years ago. Pawlenty VETOED it!

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/24/2014 - 12:21 pm.

      Good Point

      Paul, I was wondering when someone was going to make that point, namely that examples of fraud are proof that we need to fix the system, but examples of problems with the fix are invalid. I’m glad you stepped up and set the record straight as it saved me a bit of typing.

  34. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/24/2014 - 05:38 pm.

    I’ve written about this question elsewhere

    The following is part of what I posted on Facebook in November 2012:
    …Yet the right-wing media have been pushing the Voter ID Amendment, claiming that Franken and Dayton won only because the DFL cheated by encouraging convicted felons to vote and by busing welfare recipients and illegal immigrants from precinct to precinct. Never mind that our precincts are small and our neighborhoods ethnically and economically distinct, so that a busload of people who didn’t fit the local demographics trooping into the polling place would raise questions.

    This pro-amendment whispering (or shouting) campaign deliberately ignores two important facts: 1) Although Minnesota has gone Democratic in all presidential elections since 1976, its state-level politics are quite evenly divided. Both the DFL and the GOP have held the governorship and controlled the legislature at various times. 2) In both races, there was an Independence Party candidate whose positions were like those of the moderate Republicans of the past. These candidates undoubtedly received votes from people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote DFL but thought that the present-day Republican Party is too extreme. This third party has led to a situation in which no gubernatorial candidate has won a majority (50%+) since 1994.

    So anyway, let’s just *assume* for the moment that the AM radio guys are correct in saying that voting by convicted felons and non-citizens is a problem. So why are these same media figures also saying, “All you have to do is show your driver’s license”? I’d like you all to take a moment to look at your driver’s license. Where on your license does it say that you’re a U.S. citizen and that you have no felony convictions?

    Furthermore, not all U.S. citizens have driver’s licenses. They may be too poor to own a car, too disabled to drive, unwilling to drive for various reasons, or so old that they have given up driving and let their licenses lapse. Now there is an alternative state ID available for non-drivers, but it costs money, and making someone spend money to exercise their right to vote amounts to a poll tax, which is illegal under federal law.

    “Oh, no problem,” say the advocates of the amendment. “The state can provide free IDs.”

    Just wait a minute there. The party that shut down the Minnesota state government for weeks in 2011 because it didn’t want to raise taxes on the wealthiest residents and thought the state spent too much is suddenly willing to provide free IDs for an unspecified number of people (as many as 15% of the 3 million eligible voters) and set up a new bureaucracy to administer the system? Note that this would not be a one-time expense, since new people lose their incomes or their ability to drive every year.

    This amendment is an *unfunded mandate.*

    Advocates for the amendment also claim that if you have to show your ID to buy alcohol or cigarettes and to cash a check, you should have to show an ID to vote. The weakness in this claim is that no law requires people to show an ID to buy alcohol or cigarettes or to cash a check. It is illegal for anyone to SELL alcohol or cigarettes to minors, so merchants require IDs from young-looking customers to protect themselves from legal penalties or liability. (I haven’t been carded since I stopped looking like a teenager some time in the 1970s.) If a store requires you to show an ID to write a check, that’s the store’s policy to protect itself from forgers.

    You already have to show an ID or other proof of identity and address to register to vote. When you actually vote, you have to sign next to your name on the roll. However, Minnesota’s antiquated system of issuing driver’s licenses means that the proposed amendment would disenfranchise or force into a provisional ballot someone whose license was lost or stolen within two weeks of the election. (Note that the rule on provisional ballots is vague. How much time would you have to show up with an ID after the election? Having once lost my wallet and ID to a pickpocket, I understand the importance of this question.)

    In practice, local election judges could use the rule for racial profiling. That is, they might not question Ole Olson, who has been voting for their preferred party for 50 years, but they might question the dark-skinned man whose first language is Spanish (even though he’s a Puerto Rican and thus a citizen by birth) or the young woman in a hijab (even though there are now American-born Somalis old enough to vote).
    I still stand by what I wrote over a year ago.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/25/2014 - 12:16 pm.


      Karen raises yet another good point. The fact is that almost all of the fraudulent votes cast in MN were cast by people carrying perfectly legitimate IDs.

  35. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/26/2014 - 10:54 pm.

    Thank you

    I decided to check for myself if I am missing something and found out that I did indeed missed a lot – which makes it even more reasonable for me to support a good voter ID law. And since I was wrong, I decided to write again.

    First, I did not lash out at anyone – I just pointed out their inconsistencies. And if “everyone” who misinterprets what I say has the same political views, then it is not me but quite possible them. If people don’t want to even read carefully what I said (and I pointed it out several times), I can’t be responsible for their misunderstanding. Case in point: I said that the second letter of my first name is not capitalized and yet Paul did it again (no offence taken, by the way). I was trying to do everything to show that I am an independent and yet the discussion was constantly slipping down to generalizations about conservatives and Republicans, and always negative generalizations.

    Now about the main thing – registration vs. photo ID requirement. I said that I showed my naturalization paper but now I think I showed my passport which I got by sending my naturalization papers to the State Department. But I did not realize that a driver’s license is enough to register, as Todd correctly pointed out, which means I did not do my homework. But that makes everything so much worse since a driver’s license is not a proof of citizenship. I got my first driver’s license in a month after I came as a lawful permanent resident. I also lived in an apartment and had utility bills. Does it mean that I could have registered to vote on the Election Day? According to Todd and the Minnesota registration website, I could. I am baffled. In this case how do we know that people do not vote illegally? When I wanted to renew my son’s passport, which had expired by a few months, I had to send an old passport and an original Certificate of Birth. So we, as a society, require a proof of citizenship for obtaining passport, which most people use just to go abroad, and do not require it for voter’s registration? What’s wrong with this picture? Or am I missing something?
    On the other hand, if you do need to have a valid photo ID to register, as Todd said, what is wrong with asking to show the same ID before actually voting? You show it once and then show it again – what is the problem. The only reason for that is to make sure that whoever registered is the one who votes and voter ID is the easiest way since it doesn’t put any additional burden on people.

    The proposed Constitutional Amendment in Minnesota was written as follows: “All voters voting in person must present valid government‐issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section.” It asks to present the same photo identification that is required for registration anyway and guarantees that the State will provide a free one for those who don’t have it (which it is not obligated to provide to those who do not have it for registration, I believe). What is wrong here? OK, a few more safeguards may be built in (for example for nursing home residents, the government will provide a free ID based on the sworn statement of its employee, just like for registration) but some people stated here before that they would never support a voter ID law no matter what because they know it is bad. Is it a reasonable position?

    So I am not supporting a voter ID law because of one or two cases of fraud but because of a clear potential for fraud. And I am not dismissing a few cases of disenfranchising because I did say that I would not support any voter ID law, just a good one.

    A few other things. Conservative is defined as “believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society.” The anthem of the Communist revolution in Russia was Internationale which included the words “we will destroy the old world and will build a new one” (that is my approximate translation from Russian into English). Doesn’t this sound like the opposite of conservatism? So I don’t think I am confusing anything, Paul. And please do not use Rush as an example of a typical conservative – he is way to the right of a typical conservative. Unfortunately, people like Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz are much more typical representatives of the liberals even though they are even farther from the true center than Limbaugh.

    Thank you everyone for a good discussion.

Leave a Reply